Bakhmut: apocalypse and betrayal

Ukrainian soldiers walk on a muddy road near the town of Bakhmut, on the front line, in the midst of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, in March 2023 (Reuters) (LISI NIESNER /)

Everyone, Ukrainians and Russians, bleeds to death there. Volodimir Zelensky reported that in the last two weeks more than a thousand enemy soldiers were killed at that dramatic point in the war. But their own casualties are also numerous. Everything is apocalyptic in Bakhmutas was the case at the time Mariupol -in the south of the country-, already in the hands of invaders.

The battle for the city began to deepen during the Russian advance on Donetsk, last July. Since then, both armies have been bogged down in a fight where every advance is repulsed and the blood on the ground mixes with snow and mud. The occupants of Vladimir Putin They fail to keep that town despite having it practically surrounded on all sides.

But among the Russians there is a belief that some black hand this sabotaging the efforts to conquer that phantasmagorical city. Yevgeny Prigozhinthe oligarch close to putin who is master and lord of the mercenary wagner group, lashed out at the Army of his country for months for the lack of progress, little planning and scarcity of resources. He is the one who swore to take Bakhmut with their own fighters at any cost. He does it with trained soldiers, but mostly with the convicts he recruited from prisons throughout the years. Russia. However, she is breaking her promise.

His high profile aroused suspicion in Moscow. Prigozhin he casts himself as a political figure. He dreams president. He himself insinuated that his aspirations lay in Ukraine. However the Kremlin sniffed that he might want to be a candidate in 2024 specifically in Russia, where there are also elections. His emboldening, did he have the go-ahead from putin? Mystery.

The truth is that the aura of invincibility that he had his band of mercenaries is in doubt. But that palpable sensation would be fed from within Russia. An analysis of the offense made by the think tank North American Institute for the Study of War points out that the “Russian Defense Ministry may be deliberately spending Wagner Group forces in Bakhmut in part to derail Prigozhin’s political aspirations”.

Alexey Mukhina renowned Russian political scientist who frequently collaborates with the state media and is close to the kremlinmultiplied this version that the conventional forces of the Russian army do not help those hired by Prigozhin. Apparently, the Wagner Group did not garner sympathy on the front lines.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Russian Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov are likely using the opportunity to deliberately expend elite and convict forces from the Wagner Group in Bakhmut, in an effort to weaken Prigozhin and thwart his ambitions for greater influence in the Kremlin. The Russian Defense Ministry has been increasingly restricting Prigozhin’s ability to recruit convicts and procure ammunition, forcing Prigozhin to publicly acknowledge the Russian Defense Ministry’s dependence on him,” the Russian-based institute notes. Washington.

That pressure -by dint of Russian lives- caused an unexpected genuflection until a few months ago. Prigozhin He said that in recent days the Defense Ministry had supplied him with ammunition from Zaporizhia, the city of Donetsk and Avdiivka. And he clarified: “There is no conflict between Wagner’s fighters and those of the Army”. He failed to add:Sorry and thank you, General Shoigu”.

For his part, another think tankhe Polish Rochan Consulting -Specialized in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine– did not register major changes in that smoky city: “In Bakhmut heavy fighting was fought in all directions. Apparently, the southern flank was the most pressured on Monday, since the Russians managed to advance through the residential sector of this area”.

“According to the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, General Oleksandr Syrsky, the situation around Bakhmut remains difficult. He did not add anything new: Wagner’s assault units were advancing from various directions, trying to break through the Ukrainian defensive lines in the direction of the city center”, reported Rochan Consulting.

A Ukrainian counteroffensive is expected in the next few hours. To do this, the local forces managed to deploy new reinforcements that were arranged along the border with belarus and in Chernihiva city also in northern Ukraine.

Bakhmut it is a symbol. The definitive conquest of that bastion by Russia could be a serious blow to Zelensky and a significant drop in the morale of the Ukrainian forces. It was there that the Ukrainian president came last December 20 to honor the fallen and congratulate the soldiers who fought for the blue and yellow flag. There are many lives that end there.

However, if that symbol is eventually retained by the Ukrainians, Russia it will have experienced a defeat of epic proportions, inexcusable for Russian treason. And above all, the wagner group -the same person who, in the first days of the invasion, searched for Zelensky to assassinate him in kyiv– will have been reduced almost to ashes… along with the political aspirations of his boss, Prigozhin.

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